Immaterials: WiFi Light Painting (2011) by Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen
Immaterials: WiFi Light Painting (2011) by Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen


Timo Arnall, Einar Sneve Martinussen, Jørn Knutsen, Jack Schulze and Matt Jones



Lighthouse is delighted to be presenting an exhibition by some of Europe’s leading digital practitioners. Together they reveal the invisible infrastructures that make up our technological world.

9.09.13: Timo Arnall writes about Immaterials

11.09.13: Timo Arnall and Honor Harger talk about Immaterials on BBC Click

Immaterials is a research project comprised of films, texts and objects which make networked technological systems visible.

It is created by a network of collaborators including Timo Arnall, a designer, filmmaker, artist and the creative director at the influential design agency, BERG, and designers, Einar Sneve Martinussen, Jørn Knutsen, Jack Schulze and Matt Jones. Together, they have been investigating our invisible digital world for the past five years.

The Immaterials exhibition sets out to expose the materials, mechanisms, and infrastructures which enable contemporary digital culture. By making these things visible through photographic, animated and film techniques they enable us to see and develop understandings about the invisible pervasive technologies in our cities, our daily experiences, and our lives.

The exhibition brings together some of the most significant works in the Immaterials body of research. It features key works such as Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi (2011) which explores the invisible terrain of Wifi networks in urban spaces, and Robot Readable World (2012), a film which uses found-footage from computer vision research to explore how machines are making sense of the world. Earlier and seldom seen works, which show the genesis of this line of enquiry, such as Experiments in Field Drawing (2008), will be presented alongside the premiere of a new work, Immaterials: Satellite Lamps (2013), which visualise the presence of GPS satellites orbiting overhead.

Collectively, the works in develop understandings about the invisible pervasive technologies which surround us. Timo Arnall (2013) writes:

“As designers we can reveal the materials behind the ‘seamless’ technologies that make up our everyday experience, and in doing so empower others to question, critique, re-imagine and re-make. As we increasingly inhabit technical systems, and enact society and culture through them, it seems dangerous to have so little idea, about how these things work. Making visible material out of technological infrastructure is the first step towards understanding them. What we can’t see, we cannot critically evaluate.”

About the Designers

Timo Arnall
Timo Arnall is based in London and Oslo. He has been making films, designing products, and researching emerging technologies for 15 years. Much of his work has been about understanding, developing and explaining emerging technologies through films. Arnall is presently creative director at BERG. Prior to joining BERG, Arnall led an international research project investigating emerging wireless technologies through design at the Oslo School of Architecture & Design.
Timo is also one of our key speakers at Improving Reality on Thursday 5 September.

Einar Sneve Martinussen
EInar Sneve Martinussen is an interaction designer and researcher working with technology, cities and everyday life, and part of a team at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design working with exploring and visualising invisible technological structures in cities.

Jørn Knutsen
Jørn Knutsen is a designer and researcher at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, whose research is concerned with exploring urban data as a design material through various visual media and applications.

Jack Schulze
Jack Schulze is a principal at the London-based design agency, BERG. He co-founded the studio with Matt Webb in 2005.

Matt Jones
Matt Jones is a designer, previously a principal at BERG and founder of Dopplr. He is now responsible for interaction design at the Google Creative Lab in New York.

The group’s concern with the increasing invisibility of technological infrastructures is that it is difficult to creatively or critically examine something which remains out of view. As technology becomes more ubiquitous, our relationship with our devices is becoming ever-more seamless, and our technical infrastructure is becoming ever more invisible. These seamless experiences make technology pleasurable to use, but they also mask its materiality. As the writer and urbanist, Adam Greenfield (2009) has written:

“The truly pressing need is for translators: people capable of opening these occult systems up, demystifying them, explaining their implications to the people whose neighborhoods and choices and very lives are increasingly conditioned by them.”

Exploring Invisible Infrastructures
Lighthouse has been actively investigating this terrain over the past two years, through a series of exhibitions that expose these invisible technological systems and infrastructures. This began in 2011 with Invisible Fields, staged in collaboration with Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona, which revealed the radio spectrum – the invisible environment that enables contemporary technologies of information and communication. Invisible Fields set out the spectrum as a physical space, invisible but present, a landscape that can be studied, mapped, surveyed and explored. We continued this work in 2012 with Geographies of Seeing, a solo show by artist, Trevor Paglen, which showed how Paglen uses the technologies of astronomical photography to uncover the clandestine activities of the US government. Earlier this year, our two projects for Brighton Festival 2013 by James Bridle and Mariele Neudecker, examined the ulterior technologies of contemporary warfare, which are deliberately kept from public view, and have the effect of disconnecting us from the ethical implications of military conflict.

The purpose of this curatorial work is to unveil the structures, systems and infrastructures upon which we depend for our contemporary life. These systems remain largely out of sight, and therefore, for most people, out of mind. We believe if we cannot see something it is harder to comprehend it, let alone be curious about it how it is made, who made it, and who paid for it. Rather than try and create invisible and seamless experiences of technology, we like to actively reveal the seams.

As in mining, it is in the seams that we find the gold.

About Brighton Digital Festival 2013

Immaterials is a major part of Lighthouse’s programme for Brighton Digital Festival 2013, which also includes artists such as Hide&Seek, Kate Rich and Daisy Ginsberg, writers and producers such as Jeff Noon, Keller Easterling and Paula Le Dieu, and a film programme which shows how technology is transforming cinema. One of the central themes running through the programme is how digital networks can be made visible, physical and tangible in the real world. This is principally expressed through the Immaterials exhibition, but also through a series of outdoor games by Hide&Seek, new work which materialises the digital writing of renown author, Jeff Noon, talks by leading digital thinkers at Improving Reality 2013, and a trading post which teaches young people about the relationship between digital networks and commerce. These are just some of the highlights of a wide-ranging programme that bring some of the most exciting makers and thinkers in international digital culture to Brighton for the festival.

Dates: 5 September – 1 November 2013

Times: 11:00 – 18:00 Tuesday – Sunday (we are closed Mondays)

Venue: Lighthouse, 28 Kensington Street, Brighton, BN1 4AJ, UK

Cost: Free

Event Hashtag: #immaterials

Associated event: Improving Reality, 5 September 2013

Immaterials by Timo Arnall and collaborators is part of Brighton Digital Festival 2013. It is run by members of Brighton’s arts and digital communities, administered by Wired Sussex in association with Lighthouse and supported by Arts Council England. and Brighton & Hove City Council.

BDF Footer 2013



Sign up to our mailing list to receive regular email updates on exhibitions, events and other news.